HOLIS is a combination of place-based education/training and social innovation that happens every year. In August 2018, this interdisciplinary summer school brought together 24 students and young professionals from 5 continents and different disciplines, eager to learn more about design thinking methodologies and positively impact the local community in Sobole, Poland.

We explored the challenges of the rural agricultural region of Poland and potential ways to solve them. Together we brought in expertise from different disciplines and focused on one thing: how can we make the life of those who live in the Polish Radzyń Podlaski County better.



9 days

Team of 6

what i worked on

research, strategy, ideation, concept development, presentations


the challenge


We worked on keeping the food traditions of the Radzyn County alive because we felt that the best way to experience a culture was through their food. The Radzyn culture is dying because of it lack of popularity amongst visitors, young entrepreneurs and locals. Thus placing the local dishes in jeopardy of extinction.

Through our research into the community and culture we have discovered 2 key problems:

(1) There is a low visibility and recognition of Radzyn County within Poland and amongst the locals. This is because there isn’t a strong brand for locals to stand behind and additionally there are no clear communication channels within members of the community.

(2) Radzyn is an agricultural rich county yet there is no way to experience the local foods. This is because there is a lack of interest amongst the locals to retain their traditions as it is not a popular construct.


the research


how we researched

  • Absorbed research packet about the region.

  • Conducted interviews with locals.

  • Visited the nearby city, Radzyn Podlaski.

  • Visited a sweet grandmother, who I still have emoji conversations with.

research questions to locals

  1. How do you find out about local events? How do you contribute?

  2. Do you cook? Do you grow your own food?

  3. What is your favorite restaurant? Why? Can you make it at home?

  4. How welcome are you to new people?

  5. What does your average day/week look like?


the idea


SMAKING is a regular pop up event in the Radzyn County to exchange recipes with stories along with one or more home grown/made ingredients. These stories represent a personalized view of the history of the region. Thus, rekindling the love and knowledge of the region.

We wanted to design a solution that was popular and can attract a wide group of individuals across age groups and interests. Through a quick test, we discovered that many locals grew their own produce or made their own products.

smaking logo.jpg



the how


gamifying the process

We designed mystery around the entry and at the event by gamifying the process. Thus, building interest and keeping individuals invested. We also designed a strong rebellious brand that can help build passion amongst the locals. Thus, creating a community which will help the event thrive.

using local activists

We believe that activists or/and entrepreneurs with the help of the LGD Zapiecek (local action group) can run or host these events. A prime example would be Kuba Jakubowski; owner of Kofi & Ti cafe, cultural animator, social activist, and President of the “Akcja Działa” foundation. With the support of Radzyń County Office, a community can be built and hence, grow the event.

1st, 2nd and 3rd year plan

In first year we want to remind locals of their story by creating a community that converses with each other at organized meetups that are promoted on the facebook fan page. In the second year we will kindle interest in Radzyn from outside and within by developing an online platform with an established brand that promotes the events and experiments of participants. In the third year we want Radzyn to become its own brand by setting up an online shop on the website to scale production and generate peer to peer sales.


the test


For the final presentation, we prototyped the entire pop up event and had attendees act as potential participants of the community.


what I learned

  1. Definition of social innovation.

  2. Simple innovations have a big impact.

  3. Building a network in Europe.